Places like The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Buffalo Museum in Buffalo, and others provide the public with the Crime Scene Investigation Experience they desire, giving them a closer look at how forensic science impacts our daily lives. One of the main purposes of these exhibits is to educate and promote public awareness of what modern forensic science is in real life. Forensic scientists also need a dose of yearly education in order to stay informed on modern forensic science and the advances that are evaluated by their peers. Many forensic laboratories these days take one of a few roads to providing their scientists and supervisors exposure to the required continuing education (CE): 1) Bring an expert in the forensic field into the laboratory to train the entire laboratory staff (most beneficial because it allows the entire laboratory to fulfill their CE requirements). 2) Send a few lab members to a regional or national conference (cost limits the number of people sent for CE). 3) Utilize the free training that comes with the purchase of a new instrument or other technology as CE credits. (This option is not always beneficial because if the training is less than 8 hours, the CE required credits are still not fulfilled. Additionally, only a select number of lab members can attend this training, ~5–15.) The forensic community is limited in the amount of funding available for keeping forensic scientists well educated on global initiatives in forensics today. Often laboratories in the U.S. rely on state or local funding in order to bring continuing education to their lab, whether there are 15 or 150 scientists in the laboratory. Due to the expense of larger regional conferences, many institutions can only send 1–2 people to a conference.
Let’s face it, there are only so many statistics classes you can take! Most forensic scientists are happy to get a forensic expert to talk to them about forensic subject matter to further their knowledge about what they are doing in their laboratories. Ideally, hands-on experience along with well-designed lectures from these experts would comprise the total learning experience.
Friends of the Crime Lab and the Guam Community College have taken this educational idea and designed a CSI summit that takes past, present, and future forensic scientists and provides them with hands-on as well as lecture style training in order to combine the information necessary in forensics today. Here’s a look at a couple of their specialties.
Under Water Crime Scene Analysis
Leaving Honolulu for the Guam Community College/Friends of the Crime Lab Forensic Symposium found me dragging an extra seventy pound bag of equipment that the airline was only too happy to charge me for. When you carry an underwater investigation workshop on the road, it takes lots of equipment: search lines, dive harnesses, mesh body bags, and all the associated hardware which included carabineers and snap shackles. The trip was uneventful but for the day lost crossing the international dateline.